"Are you sure? You don't have to go through with this."
But, who was I kidding. Julio's choices had been shut down that first night-the night I'd found him supposedly by chance, but with chance having nothing to do about it. He'd been had even before I approached him at the Noobai Café, the discreet little gay hookup bar in the Restele district of Lisbon, not far from the Cuban consulate.
"I've done what you told me to do, Frank," Julio said. He was looking as much like the innocent and the deer in the headlights here on the street in Restauradores Square at the Pirata open-air café as he had that first night when he realized I was going to fuck him. "I have it all on a couple of CDs. It's in the hotel room you said I should book across the street."
I looked up at the façade of the Hotel VIP Executive Suite Eden as Julio gestured across the street. As I did so, I noticed two pair of eyes at a nearby table involuntarily follow Julio's gesture and my line of sight. Ours or theirs? They could be almost anything. American, Canadian, Cuban, Russian even. Not Chinese, though. Thank god for little favors. The Chinese were all over Lisbon with their ferreting. It was a gold mine. They understood that better than most.
I had a brief vision of nervous, luscious little Julio, all delicate beauty and noticeably dark skin, flashing dark eyes, and that curly black hair cascading around his face, standing at the desk of that expensive hotel and making reservations. I should have told him to check into a fleabag. So much of this had gone wrong. And so much was my fault.
"Get him to bring it to a hotel room, not the apartment," Peter, my handler, had said. "The safe house will not do for this. Meeting at a nearby café and casing it beforehand would be the best. You can have drinks-iced coffee or something-ordered from there to take up to the room."
That's when Peter had told me why we should have a drink-something that would cover the taste.
"Is that necessary, Peter?" I'd asked, shocked that it was coming to this. "He's just an innocent young man. Raw at the job. Isn't it enough that the Cubans will find him out?"
"You're our asset, Chaz," Peter had said-the name I'd given Julio of course not being my real name. Chaz wasn't my real name either, for that matter, any more than Peter was the name of the man giving me these horrifying instructions. "You're the one we must protect. You're a Canadian importer of Portuguese Vinho Verde wine here, making excellent local contacts. You are too valuable to us in this role. He must not be able to identify you."
"But he's barely grown," I said again-nonsensically, as I knew that wouldn't do a bit of good. But it meant something to me. It meant a whole lot to me. I'd never felt this way before in doing the job I had to do.
He'd been so shy and vulnerable-and, yes, I had to admit it, desirable-when I had pulled in beside him at the bar that first time. He obviously had only now worked up the courage to come to a gay bar, starved for the attention he needed and frightened silly by the risk he was taking, by the choice he was making just by being there.
It had taken three drinks to calm him enough that I could put my hand on his thigh and lean over and whisper into his ear what I could do for him. He trembled and his nostrils were flaring like that of a skittish thoroughbred race horse.
He had cried quietly when I covered his body and fucked him on the bed in the safe house apartment. I lay fully sheltering him under my body, as he shuddered and writhed. I kissed him in the hollow of his neck and whispered to him how wonderful his body was and how much it meant to me that he'd given himself to me, as I let my fingers stroke his scalp through his luxurious black curls.
He had been fucked before-years before he had entered the Cuban foreign service as a lowly code clerk-but it obviously had all been furtive and by young men who were no more experienced than he was. I was his first real man, the first man who knew how to work his body, how to give and take suck, what nipple play could arouse, how to play his channel with the cock.
"It is his inexperience and vulnerability-and the very reason that he is a lowly code clerk on his first assignment-that we chose him," Peter had told me. "These third world countries will never learn. They give the least training and preparation to the employees who have the greatest access to their secrets-the clerks who send and receive their communications."
"But is it worth it?" I'd asked.
Peter had looked sharply at me then. "You are not falling for the young man, are you?"
"No, of course not," I lied. "I just don't know what three months worth of cable exchanges between Havana and a small consulate in Lisbon can be worth."
"The Cuban Foreign Ministry loves to pontificate-and to share their wisdom with every embassy and consulate in their system," Peter answered. "There is something going on between the Castro brothers. We're sure that traffic will help us find out what that is."
It was only near the end of the third visit to the safe house, while I was sitting in the overstuffed armchair and, facing me, Julio was rising and falling on my cock with the strength of his knees on the arms of the chair and I was driving his cock like the gearshift of a sports car, that I told him what he could do for me if he wanted our encounters to continue.
The second and third times I'd made him contact me and beg for the meeting. I knew after the blow job I gave him in the second meeting that he was mine. But, as Peter had instructed me to do, I waited for him to ask me what he needed to do to keep me after I told him that it might be best, safer for us both, if we broke it off.
It was like shooting fish in a barrel. That had been Peter's observation, and then he'd laughed. I couldn't deny that the observation was apt, but I didn't laugh. I was too busy trying to hide from Peter that I had feelings for Julio now. That wasn't in the scheme at all; that quite purposely wasn't in my job description.
"I think we can go on up to the hotel room now," I said there at the table in the Pirata Café. "I was going to suggest that we take iced coffees up, but I see that you already have one. Do you want it refreshed?"
"No. No, thanks. I prefer it when it has gone lukewarm. I'll take this one."
"I'll order one then and we'll go up. Again, are you sure?"
I reached over and laid a hand on his thigh. He didn't flinch. We were way beyond that. He looked at me with trusting, desired-filled eyes. I hated myself at that moment.
We fucked languidly on the bed in the luxurious hotel suite, me taking him deep in a side split and arching his torso back to me so that he could turn his face and we could kiss deeply, me fucking his tonsils as much with my tongue as I was worrying his prostate with the bulb of my cock and him gasping and moaning. If it was a last fuck, I wanted it to be a memorable one-for me, even if it could not be for him. This time the tears were in my eyes.
He was dozing on the bed. The briefcase was propped up at the side of the desk I was standing beside while I looked out of the window down into Restauradores Square into the Pirata Café. I was fingering the two capsules in the pocket of the hotel robe I had pulled around my shoulders. I could just take the briefcase and leave now. I didn't have to go through with this. Peter would just have to live with half a victory. I could even just insist on being pulled out of Portugal.
I was such a fool, though. I knew that. I knew Peter-or whoever he really was. He wouldn't let it rest if I failed to use the capsules.
I felt my blood run cold as I looked down at the café and focused on what I was looking at. Those two men, those same two men who had involuntarily looked up when Julio pointed to the hotel from the café earlier. They were still there, in the café. And they were looking up at the window-at me. "He wouldn't let it rest," I muttered.
"What did you say?"
I turned toward the bed. Julio was sitting up and reaching for the cup of iced coffee he'd brought up from the café.
"Wait, Julio," I said. "Were you ever out of sight of that drink when you were in the café?"
"Well, maybe . . ."
"Stop! Don't drink that. Put it down. Come, out of bed and dress. We'll need to find a back entrance to the hotel."
"I don't understand."
"You don't have to understand, Julio. You just need to do it. Here. Give me that cup." I strode over and took it out of his hand. I also picked up the cup I'd brought upstairs. When I returned from dumping the liquid from those and the two capsules from my robe pocket in the commode, he was dressing as I had directed. Prepared to do anything I asked.
"What . . . ?"
"I don't know, Julio. I'll figure it out later. But we'll leave the briefcase here. That should mollify them for a bit. I just know we have to get out of this. Both of us."